Bill 23 of the Ford government is an example of exaggeration: Benneian | Rare Techy
Anne Marie Straub had a few choice words to say about Premier Doug Ford.
“He’s sold,” the Vineland resident said as he marched up and down King Street outside Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff’s Beamsville constituency office to protest Bill 23, which would see the province set aside land from the Greenbelt to facilitate the construction of homes . built.
Known as the Homes Built Faster Act, 15 sites totaling 7,400 acres will be removed from the Greenbelt. The province said the ability to build more homes will have a positive impact on housing affordability.
“Two years, three years ago (Ford) said he was going to protect the green belt,” Straub said. “Then, as soon as he gets a chance, he’ll get back to it.”
Liz Benneian, founder of Biodiversity and Climate Change Niagara, organized Saturday’s demonstration. It coincided with other events in municipalities across the province to draw attention to the bill.
“This is really a province-wide protest against the overreach of the Ford government,” he said, adding that the legislation helps developers, not people who need housing.
In fact, he said, it puts more of a burden on people who currently own homes.
Since the development fees do not go to the municipalities, this means less money in the municipal treasury and leads to an increase in the municipal tax.
“That means more money from taxpayers,” Benneian said. “That makes it more expensive for people who own their homes.”
Apart from that, according to him, the local governments have already approved their official plans and Bill 23 is not necessary to adapt to the growth.
“These official plans provided enough land to support growth until 2051,” he said.
According to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, 319 acres of farmland are lost to development every day in Ontario.
It’s something of great concern to Jason Hirdle of 350 Hamilton, who joined Saturday’s protest. Cities like Hamilton have land to build houses without carving them away from the green belt.
“Hamilton has 11 years of (developable) land available,” he said. “Developers need to get off their asses.”
Like Hirdle, Benneian said there is plenty of land to develop without taking away the green belt.
“There are currently 88,000 acres of land that have already been approved for development,” he said. “It’s time to tell developers to get started.”
Oosterhoff has been reached for comment this week but has not heard back as of publication.
Saturday’s rally could have had an even bigger turnout, but the snowy weather prevented some people — especially in the hardest-hit South Niagara — from coming out, Benneian said.
“There were people from Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and Pelham who just couldn’t make it.”
CORRECTION (November 20, 2022): The story has been updated to correct the spelling of Liz Benneian’s name.